Financial Power List 2012: The big players

by Accountancy Age Staff

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16 Jan 2012

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01-george-osborne-top-50-2012

1 George Osborne MP, chancellor of the Exchequer

To-do list: Prevent the UK falling into recession again; maintain the triple A rating; promote the country’s position in an increasingly unstable Europe; reverse the unemployment statistics; get Britain spending again; save the financial sector while rebalancing the economy; and live up to the government’s “we’re all in this together” mantra . It’s fair to say the chancellor really will decide the economic future of the country.

Although we seem to say this every year, the Budget on 21 March could be the most important in a generation. So far, his gamble on private sector growth sorting out the economy has not worked out. In his plus column, this might not be his fault, and the UK is not facing Greece or Italy’s problems. But regardless of political loyalties, 2012 is a year where Osborne – and his fellow finance ministers across the world - simply must succeed, for everyone’s sake. In this year of all years, Osborne has to be number one on our list.

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2 Michel Barnier, European commissioner for internal market and services

Architect of the most radical audit reform proposals in a generation, Barnier's plans planted a firecracker under the industry and sparked intense lobbying on all sides. Headline proposals include audit-only firms and six-yearly mandatory rotation. Brussels will now deliberate on his proposals, and Barnier's determination is likely to clash with fierce opposition from business leaders and the Big Four.

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3 Lin Homer, incoming chief executive, HMRC

Not a huge amount is known about the new chief executive of HMRC. As permanent secretary of the Department for Transport, she kept a relatively low profile, although there were controversies over her time in charge of Birmingham City Council and the UK Border Agency. But this is insignificant compared with Dave Hartnett. Although she is nominally replacing Dame Lesley Strathie, in effect she will take the role of Hartnett when he retires in the summer – the public face of HMRC. Following Hartnett’s reign, a year out of the headlines would be a win.

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4 Neil Wood, London Olympics’ FD

The LOCOG finance director has so far managed to keep the budget in-line with expectations but, last minute problems could spiral spending out of control. The whole world is watching, not only judging the spectacle but also whether finances and infrastructure will win gold. Wood will need to maintain tight control, with his employer Deloitte having already won the deal to provide professional services to the next Olympics in Rio.

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5 Mary Schapiro, chairman, US Securities and Exchange Commission

Schapiro presides over the US watchdog, which has the final say on whether the US opts for global accounting convergence, allowing much easier comparisons between company accounts around the world. The SEC recently delayed this decision, and it seems likely to plump for US GAAP largely written by the IASB, but with the option to carve out US-only exceptions for accounting contentious issues.

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6 Ed Davey MP, overseeing an overhaul of insolvency regulation

With responsibility for insolvency Davey plans to radically change the landscape. He is currently consulting on reducing the nine regulators, which include the ICAEW and ACCA, to just one. This change alone could see institutes haemorrhage members and lose money as practitioners become licensed by another body. He also plans to increase transparency on controversial pre-pack administrations and stop the Insolvency Service from licensing and regulating the profession

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7 Gareth Davies, leading the Audit Commission’s spinoff

Audit Commission practice director Gareth Davies has worked at breakneck pace to set up a unique employee-owned spinoff from public audit. With the financial backing of Mazars, Davies’ DA Partnership will hope that the hard work results in picking up a good chunk of work when the Audit Commission is canned.

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8 Hans Hoogervorst, chairman, International Accounting Standards Board

Five months into his appointment, Hoogervorst is steering the IASB through a period of intense focus and speculation. Deadlines to complete four priority projects have been repeatedly stretched, and the US recently said it will delay a decision on adoption of global standards. As a non-accountant, Hoogervorst’s appointment as the replacement for Sir David Tweedie at the IASB was something of a surprise and signaled the board’s greater sensitivity to the political implications of its decisions.

howard-gross-top-50-2012

9 Howard Gross, ICAEW practice chair

Howard Gross is not a regular on the media circuit or in the Financial Power List, but is well known among practitioners through his representations at ICAEW Council level, and as a senior member of the Society of Professional Accountants. His new role as chair of the ICAEW’s practice consultative committee is important in making sure the institute isn’t just focused on high-end audit issues mostly affecting the six biggest firms.

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10 Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee

Hodge had quite a 2011. Her leadership of the inquiry into the Goldman Sachs deal was compelling viewing, from calling Dave Hartnett a liar, to making HMRC solicitor general Anthony Inglese swear on oath. The PAC-led National Audit Office report into the deal will likely be more hard-hitting than the NAO’s single paragraph in the 2011 HMRC annual report and we can be sure that Hodge will demand action following any conclusions made.

11 Algirdas Šemeta, EU commissioner for taxation, customs, anti-fraud and audit

The EU’s move to implement Šemeta’s proposed financial transaction tax has not exactly been well received in the UK, but France and Germany seem determined to push it through. Even if the UK does not adopt the tax, which Šemeta will be responsible for implementing, there are still prophecies of doom about what it could mean for the financial sector’s dealings with the continent.

12 Richard Heis, KPMG partner leading MF Global UK’s ‘special administration’

He is the lead insolvency practitioner on the world’s first special administration, of MF Global UK. Insolvency professionals, creditors, and financial services regulators will keep a close eye on the new regime’s success or failure. If it works, then  it will change the way administrations are undertaken for all financial institutions.

Times up Hartnett UK Uncut protest13 UK Uncut

It has been an eventful year for the organisation. The Vodafone and Goldman Sachs controversies have led to David Cameron calling on HMRC to take a tougher line, as well as official enquiries. Dave Hartnett will leave office in the summer, and the deals with big business seem to be a factor in this. How much influence UK Uncut had in raising these issues is another matter, but the group’s legal challenge against HMRC’s deal with Goldmans looks to be a real threat. If it goes ahead and is successful, the future of the relationship between the taxman and big business will have to change.

14 A replacement for KPMG UK chairman John Griffith-Jones

With JGJ stepping down in September, who will fill his shoes? We are likely to know by Spring, and the firm is not short of candidates.  Oliver Tant (39 on this year’s list) is likely to be a front-runner, but will market issues prove distracting? Consulting expert and long-time senior role-holder Alan buckle must be a favourite. COO Richard Bennison could also be in with a shot. Accountancy Age wonders if KPMG can avoid a potentially nasty and harmful power struggle over the next few months.

15 Chris Lucas, chief financial officer, Barclays

Chris Lucas, Barclays CFO for the last five years, is an increasingly vocal voice in the great debate of the age: what to do with the banks? Lucas had a good crisis unlike many of his banking peers. He has continued in guiding the bank through the turbulent waters, with many analysts taking note of his calm under pressure and admirable support for the bank’s then-CEO John Varley. Since then, with the appointment of Bob Diamond, Lucas has continued to add a solidity and steel to Barclays’ attempts to hold its own against the attempts to regulate banks.

16  Stephen Haddrill, chief executive, Financial Reporting Council

Haddrill has steered the UK regulator into a widespread reform process which will probably see it step back from traditional focuses such as standard setting and audit practice. Instead, Haddrill envisions a much greater disciplinary role – for which he will have to contend with powerful accounting institutions – and an international regulatory voice. He wants the FRC to carve out a cross-border profile and take a seat in the global debate.

17 Tim Bush, accounting activist

Bush’s vehement stance on international reporting standards shows no signs of letting up. He maintains IFRS was partially to blame for the financial crisis, allowing banks to book fanciful profits and pay out huge bonuses without keeping any cash in reserve for tough times. Often quoted in the media, he has recently been in Paris talking to the French standard setters about their stance on financial reporting rules.

18 Tom Martin, interim executive counsel, Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board

Martin has recently stepped into the breach after the departure of former executive counsel Cameron Scott. He is a strong contender for the permanent post, and will doubtless be influential as the FRC pushes for much greater disciplinary powers. A fraud expert who joined the AADB in 2008, Martin previously worked at the Inland Revenue and the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office. As senior lawyer and alternate executive counsel, Martin was a natural choice as AADB interim caretaker.

19 Lee Manning, Deloitte partner and new R3 president

A renowned administrator, Manning will take over as president of the largest insolvency trade body in the UK. He’ll have his work cut out for him as possible incoming government legislations could radically change the insolvency landscape.

20 Merkozy

The seemingly never-ending eurozone crisis is sure to rumble on this year and Europe will continue to look to German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy as the pair that will decide the fate of the common currency and the future of the European Union. The pair, initially dubbed Merkozy by the French press, have their own domestic battles to fight. Sarkozy will have to battle for re-election in April and May, while Merkozy could find herself without Germany’s federal president Christian Wulff.

21 Jonathan Wall, managing director, Elman Wall

The co-founder of the West London-based practice must be pretty pleased at the moment. The Elman Wall co-founder –and Bruce Springsteen fan - picked up the British Accountancy Awards independent firm of the year prize on its behalf. But it’s a new year. Can ‘The Boss’ help maintain the firm’s momentum?

22 David Sproul, senior partner and chief executive, Deloitte
Six months into the role since replacing the larger-than-life John Connolly, things have been relatively quiet on the “Deloitte is going to take over the world” front. Can the firm close the gap against PwC? The threat of an AADB investigation into its role as auditor during RBS’ problems also hangs over the firm.

Ed Balls23 Ed Balls, shadow chancellor

The shadow chancellor has not seemed to have captured the public’s imagination. Already this year, shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy has criticised Labour’s “populism” on the economy, while keeping Balls name out of it. While there is much ammunition for Balls to hit Osborne over the failure to cut the deficit as promised, a coherent strategy on the economy and an acknowledgement of the problems facing the UK needs to be articulated. If Balls can achieve this, he could have a good 2012.

24 Gregory Mitchell, QC for HMRC

He represented the taxman in its legal battle to challenge controversial football insolvency rules that sees the taxman lose out. The decision will come this year and he’ll either be the barrister that won it for HMRC or the barrister that appeals and keeps fighting its corner.

25 Andy Raynor, CEO, RSM Tenon

With revenues pushing £250m you’d think RSM Tenon chief Andy Raynor would be pleased. But with tough trading conditions predicted, and a share price valuing the company at just a tenth of its annual income, things aren’t all hunky-dory. Can he shift that share price? And if not, what’s his next move?

26 Andy Halford, chairman, The Hundred Group of Finance Directors

In his second year as the chairman of the Hundred Group of Finance Directors, Andy Halford, CFO of Vodafone, remains one of the most influential players in the finance profession. Halford has already raised the profile of the discrete but influential lobby group’s profile and with the audit reform debate continuing to rage his influence is sure to grow in 2012.

27 Jim Scott MD of accountants division Sage

Succeeds Jayne Archbold at the FTSE 100 business. Sage recently announced various changes to its Accountants’ Division and accountants’ club which includes more updates and support. Scott is charged with driving these changes through.

28 Steve Freer, chief executive, CIPFA

CIPFA’s members have got to keep a tighter rein than ever on government finances. To that effect CIPFA has launched Fixing our Foundations, aiming to achieve “real impact and deliver outcomes” across all public financial management. Good luck CIPFA, and Steve. Let’s see if they can achieve any progress in the next 12 months.

29 John Whiting, director, Office of Tax Simplification

Last year’s number one broadly lived up to the billing. His recommendation for the merger of income tax and National Insurance is being consulted on by the government, albeit not as wide-ranging as Whiting would have liked. His Office of Tax Simplification will be reviewing small business taxation, employee share schemes and taxation of pensioners. Perhaps more important is to what extent the government adopts his 2011 recommendations.

30 Robert Chote, Office of Budget Responsibility

Chote’s Office for Budget Responsibility has not covered itself in glory since its formation in 2010. It has been criticised for being too cosy with the government and the fact it has cut its growth forecast since last year has fuelled these criticisms. But its forecast in advance of the Budget will be crucial. Osborne has tended to tailor his Budgets based on the OBR’s reports. Another pessimistic report pre-21 March will make the chancellor’s life even harder.

31 Harry Redknapp, manager, Tottenham Hotspur

The England team is in the strange position of having its captain (John Terry) and manager-in-waiting in the dock before Euro 2012. Redknapp will face two charges of cheating the public revenue on 23 January. The last household name to be successfully convicted was Lester Piggott in 1987, so a conviction for Redknapp would be a significant coup for HMRC and a message to would-be evaders.

32 Anthony Thomas, president, CIoT

Thomas began his presidential term with a bang in May, denouncing the “special relationship” between HMRC and the institutes as a “myth”. He has hardly held back since, saying that HMRC consultations were a “waste of time”. There have been conciliatory movements from the taxman towards the institutes – there will be a review of business records checks and there is an ongoing initiative to understand the profession better. If they prove false dawns, expect Thomas to apply the pressure.

33 Ric Traynor chairman, Begbies Traynor

Chairman of one of only two listed firms, he arranged the sale of its tax division to Smith & Williamson and hopes to offload its Red Flag service too. Although the firm has struggled in the past it was appointed to more administration than any other firm last year according to figures from the London Gazette.

34 Elaine Clark, accounting Twitterati

Founder of cheapaccounting.co.uk, Clark has achieved phenomenal success with her business model of cost-effective client service through franchises. A key part of her success has come through using social media to market her business. If you’ve wondered what all the Twitter and blogging fuss is all about, ‘follow’ her - @cheapaccounting.

Ian Powell35 Ian Powell, chairman and senior partner, PwC

After a busy year which has seen all the Big Four receive a kicking from the Lords and EC over audit, where next for the firm? Powell will no doubt face pressure to grow partner profits, which  were static per partner  in 2011 – although some might argue that was no mean achievement. The firm’s pension plans will be reviewed this year, and Powell’s calls for more diversity in the firm will also be a focus.

36 Fiona Hotston Moore, corporate business partner, CCW

Pivotal in the outstanding growth achieved by Crowe Clark Whitehill after joining  last year along with five other partners from Mazars. According to Hemscott, CCW were rivalled only by RSM Tenon as the fasted growing auditor out of the top firms for private sector businesses. Hotston Moore was recently promoted to head of corporate business for London and will be tasked with keeping the momentum going.                

37 Tim Tookey, acting chief executive, Lloyds Banking Group

It is a testament to the importance of Tim Tookey that despite announcing last year that he is to leave Lloyds in February to join Friends Life, that the Lloyds finance director stepped up to the hot seat to cover chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio’s role while he recovered from extreme fatigue.  His move to Friends Life returns him to his roots in insurance. Before Lloyds, he was finance director of Prudential UK. Tookey brings the relevant skills to Friends Life to help it move into its next phase, including transactions and capital markets experience such as Lloyds £13.5bn rights issue.

38 Mark Otty, managing partner EMEIA, Ernst & Young

For Otty, Lehman Brothers just won’t go away. Last year most of the key claims in a class-action lawsuit against E&Y over its audits of Lehman Brothers were thrown out by a federal judge, however the state of New Jersey is still pursuing the accountancy firm. Otty will also have to contend with European audit reform, which will gather pace this year.

39 Oliver Tant, head of audit, KPMG

The audit market continues to sit on shaky ground. Later this year the Competition Commission will unveil suggestions on its future, which include mandatory rotation and a possible break-up of the Big Four’s dominance through joint audits. Tant has also been tipped to succeed outgoing KPMG boss and fellow auditor John Griffith-Jones.

40 Mark Freebairn/Suzzane Wood, CFO headhunters

Impossible to draw a line between,  Accountancy Age has taken the admittedly easy route out by placing them (excuse the pun) both at number 40. For an easy understanding of their sphere of influence, both Wood, at Russell Reynolds, and Odgers Berndtson’s Freebairn have more than 500 connections on professional networking site LinkedIn. And they are good connections.

David Gauke exchequer secretary41 David Gauke, MP responsible for HMRC

On a personal level, Gauke – the minister responsible for the taxman and most tax policy - had a good 2011. He has managed to work closely with HMRC hierarchy without turning on the department, while avoiding being tainted by the criticisms around PAYE and the Goldman Sachs affair. The Swiss deal was a major coup, even if it was an HMRC project, and his tax avoidance policies have been broadly welcomed by the profession. If he can repeat this, and work with the new leadership at HMRC, there could be a Cabinet post around the corner.

42 Mervyn King, governor, Bank of England

The UK faces a severe threat of recession this year and with the government pledging to cut the deficit the onus will be on King to stimulate growth in the economy. So far he has stopped short of announcing further stimulus, but his hand may be forced in February if the economy is revealed to have shrunk at the end of last year.

43 Caroline Spelman MP, environment secretary

She is tasked with overseeing the carbon reduction commitment which charges companies for their energy emissions. This scheme has been a thorn in finance directors’ sides shrouded in numerous changes and confusion. In 2011 the scheme started with FDs having to report emissions, however, 2012 will see them having to pay for them.

44 Michael Izza, chief executive, ICAEW

Five years into the role, and the institute is a very different beast, but that doesn’t mean Izza doesn’t have plates to spin. International growth, revised qualifications and managing the implications of the opening up of legal services, HMRC’s service standards, means 2012 is going to be hectic for Izza’s crew.

45 Martin van Roekel, incoming chief executive, BDO International

Successor to outspoken chief exec Jeremy Newman, van Roekel steps into a high-profile post with some big shoes to fill. Former managing partner of BDO Netherlands, in 2009 he became global head of network development and CEO Europe. Van Roekel will doubtless be focusing on extending BDO's success in China to the rest of its global network, and should have much to say on the regulatory debate raging in Europe.

46 Rachel Osborne, finance director, John Lewis

John Lewis has reported an "outstanding" rise in sales at its department stores during the Christmas period. Like-for-like sales were up 6.2% from a year ago, but finance director Rachel Osborne who joined the company last year will face challenging conditions into 2012 and her performance will be very much under the spotlight. Osborne spent one year at Sodexho, following a six-year stint at retail giant Kingfisher B&Q. The step up to John Lewis will test her resources to the limit.

47 Andrew Tyrie MP, chairman, Treasury Select Committee

The committee has been slightly overshadowed by the Public Accounts Committee this year. But under Tyrie, the TSC is still one of the most influential parliamentary bodies. In 2011, it was mainly focused on the financial services sector and the Vickers report on banking. But its standard report on the 2012 Budget will make interesting reading. Tyrie is one of the sharpest minds on the backbenches and if Osborne gets a sum wrong, Tyrie will make sure we know about it.

48 Steve Maslin, head of external professional affairs, Grant Thornton

Behind Maslin's charming demeanour lies a steely determination to push for evolution in not only audit - but the market for audit services. Maslin is not shy to involve himself in the projects, working groups and discussion panels. A true personality in the profession, and one of its most respected spokesmen.

49 Leslie Seidman, chairman, Financial Accounting Standards Board

Leslie Seidman's profile has been waxing as all eyes turn to the US for its decision on adoption of global reporting standards. Her strong speech at a recent conference of US accountants made it clear the US was committed to IFRS, but on its own terms. Seidman called a greater seat at the IASB's table in the form of observers. The US maintains that, as the largest financial market in the world, its influence should remain stronger than most.

Helen Brand50 Helen Brand, chief executive, ACCA

Worldwide economic turmoil might suit some investors, but for ACCA it means pushing out messages to its vast network. Maintaining study fees will be key during tough times. Brand is also a member of the International Integrated Reporting Council.

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